ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0110 07 February 2010
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Jean-Marc Rapp, President of the European University Association. He has promised an annual review of university rankings. See our News section.
Ariel University Center of Samaria in the hills of the West Bank. It is still not accredited as a university. See the story in our News section.
The Université Paris-Dauphine, where 1600% fees increases for some courses have angered lecturers and students. See our news story. photo Alain Mengus.


University World News was the official media partner to the Unesco World Conference on higher education, held in Paris from 5-8 July.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EUROPE: Developing a worldwide league table
The European Union plans to publish a worldwide ranking of universities next year that it hopes will rival existing global league tables. The aim is to boost the place of European universities in the Shanghai Jiao Tong and Times Higher Education ranking systems, both dominated by US institutions.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: EUA president promises rankings review
David Haworth
University rankings can sometimes be confusing and should not be the basis for devising policy because universities are confronted with rankings every day, said Jean-Marc Rapp, President of the European University Association. Speaking at the association’s spring meeting in Brussels at the end of January, Rapp said rankings were volatile and he promised an annual review as a service for the EUA’s 850 institutional members.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Ranking universities by web popularity
Geoff Maslen
A company that produces an online ranking of the world’s universities based on the popularity of their websites has just released its world top 200 institutions for 2010. Called 4 International Colleges and Universities, or, the company describes its website as an online directory of accredited, four-year institutions around the globe.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Spending on universities slashed
Diane Spencer
English universities face massive cuts for the first time in a decade and just as demand for places is increasing. The Higher Education Funding Council for England told vice-chancellors last week that some £215 million (US$342 million) will be sliced off teaching budgets in 2010-11. Spending on science, technology, engineering and maths, the so-called Stem subjects, however, will be safeguarded. Individual institutions will learn details of their grant allocations on 18 March.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Top UK astronomer suspended
Karen MacGregor
The suspension in South Africa of internationally recognised British astronomer Professor Phil Charles has stunned the astronomy community and raised concerns about this country’s relationship with international scientists. It might also undermine South Africa’s bid against Australia to host the world’s biggest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
Full report on the University World News site

US: Voluntary support down by 12%
Sarah King Head
It is hardly surprising that voluntary support for US colleges and universities has declined over the past year given the current economic crisis. But 2009 saw the greatest fall in more than half a century.
Full report on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Controversy over upgrading college to university
Helena Flusfeder
Controversy has erupted over a decision to upgrade an Israeli college in the West Bank and give it university status. Described by one critic as “an academic settlement in occupied territory”, the move to have the college in the West Bank town of Ariel officially recognised as a university centre has been vehemently opposed by Israel’s Council for Higher Education which contends there is no academic need for another university.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Paris-Dauphine fees increase may be illegal
Jane Marshall
A decision by the University Paris-Dauphine to increase fees for some of its masters courses from €231 (US$321) to as much as €4,000 has angered lecturers and students, while Minister for Higher Education and Research Valérie Pécresse believes the move could be illegal.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Proposal to train imams at universities
Michael Gardner
Germany’s Wissenschaftsrat or Science Council has recommended that Islamic theology play a more significant role in higher education institutions. The council, one of the country’s chief advisory bodies to the government on higher education and research matters, proposes establishing centres for Islamic studies at two or three publicly funded universities.
Full report on the University World News site




EUROPE: Nowotny new ERC President?
Jan Petter Myklebust
With the retirement of Fotis C Kafatos as President of the European Research Council and Chairman of the Scientific Council, rumours in Brussels suggest Helga Nowotny, one of the vice-presidents of ERC, will be elected to take his place at the next meeting of the Scientific Board in Bucharest next month.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Wood to head commonwealth association
The Association of Commonwealth Universities has appointed Imperial College London’s Professor John Wood as its new Secretary General. Wood, currently senior international relations adviser at the college, will take up the post on 1 July. He succeeds Professor John Tarrant.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTHERN AFRICA: New health research initiative
A new initiative aimed at encouraging development of health research capacity in Southern Africa has been launched. The academic training project is being funded by the Wellcome Trust of London, one of the world’s largest medical research charities, through a US$50 million pledge made last year in July to support health research at 50 institutions spread across 18 African countries.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: New methods to clean up industrial processes
Alan Osborn
The EU will provide €1 million (US$1.4 million) to help a team of UK researchers at Leicester University develop a range of ionic liquid solvents to provide safe, non-toxic alternatives to harmful solutions used in industrial processes. One aim is to improve the working conditions of people exposed to carcinogenic toxic acids and electrolytes that are used in some processes, such as those relating to commercial metal finishing and energy storage.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: A golden opportunity for developing countries
Leah Germain
A professor from the Melbourne Business School in Australia has proposed an innovative plan to create a multi-billion dollar fund to provide financial assistance for carbon reduction initiatives in developing countries. Professor Gary Sampson has touted the plan as a positive version of “creative accounting”, because it exploits the difference between the International Monetary Fund book value for gold and what can be earned by selling this precious metal on global commodity markets.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Expansion for EU vocational education
Keith Nuthall
The Greece-based European Union agency charged with promoting vocational education and training in Europe has released a forecast on the anticipated demand and supply of skills until 2020. Releasing the report at a Brussels conference, agency Cedefop predicts a “steady rise in knowledge- and skill-intensive occupations”.
Full report on the University World News site


INDIA: Selling services or spreading light?
Alan Ruby*
Over the last 20 years, the growth of the global middle class has driven up demand for higher education. A global market for education is operating with new forms of information-ranking systems to guide consumer choices. India, despite rapid growth in wealth and a large under-served population of young people, was quarantined, isolated by government regulatory barriers. That may be about to change.
Full report on the University World News site

NORWAY: A free system but for how long?
Jan Petter Myklebust
Higher education in Norway is a part of a welfare society and is defined as a public good so 100% of the education part of the budget is publicly funded. Although a few private institutions exist, they are mainly in business studies. The present coalition government, with a Left Soc ialist minister of higher education, will ensure international students also do not face fees – at least for the next three years. But this could change, given that the budget for universities this year is extremely tight.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Casual approach to the academic workforce
Hamish Coates, Ian R Dobson, Leo Goedegebuure and Lynn Meek*
The response of Australian academics to the Changing Academic Profession survey indicates that they are among the least satisfied academics in the world. This dissatisfaction has been expressed after two decades of rapid growth in the student body and structural changes in the academic workforce, particularly an expansion in the amount of teaching provided by casual staff. Growth in casual staff numbers is a factor that has simultaneously created a precariously employed but cheaper and more flexible workforce along with higher levels of stress among the full-time teachers responsible for managing and supervising casual teachers.
Full article on the University World News site

US: Top 10 higher education state policy issues
In 2009, two contradictory movements shaped the US public higher education policy landscape, according to the latest Policy Matters brief of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, titled Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2010. While higher education soared up the national policy agenda, states focused attention on funding cuts to post-secondary institutions.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GLOBAL: Examination howlers: but who is fooling whom?
Geoff Maslen
As students returned to their campuses in Europe and other countries in the northern hemisphere after the Christmas break, they faced the first set of examinations for the year. While they have little choice but to sit the exams, or go home again, students have their own way of getting back at a system that often makes them feel powerless. During a medical school examination, to give one example, students were asked: What is a fibula? To which one replied, “A little lie”. In another test, a student wrote that a myth was a female moth while someone else declared that Algebra was the wife of Euclid.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Video diaries reveal depths of post-Christmas blues
The return to university after Christmas is a low point for many students as they face examinations following a festive break that is often less restful than expected. Researchers at the University of Leicester who asked students to keep a regular video diary have discovered that post-Christmas blues are very real for many who find the need to earn and revise during the holiday season leaves them drained at the start of the New Year.
Full report on the University World News site

NORWAY: Sacked professor loses case
Jan Petter Myklebust
A sacked professor of medieval history who sued the University of Oslo for wrongful dismissal has lost the case. Arnved Nedkvitne was dismissed by the university’s academic senate last year. He was seeking to regain his tenured professorship and compensation for loss of income but lost on both issues and was also ordered to pay €23,000 in costs.
Full report on the University World News site


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HAITI: University rector reports on quake devastation
“It’s my first time on the internet since Tuesday’s earthquake,” writes Dr Jacky Lumarque, Rector of Université Quisqueya in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “My apologies to friends who may have been worried by my silence but I have been focused on rescue operations and assistance to families. I was bent on not ending rescue operations until getting confirmation that the persons we were searching for had indeed died.”
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Professors teach just four hours a week: Minister
Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe has accused some university professors of teaching as few as four hours a week, writes John Walshe for the Irish Independent. They are earning between €120,000 (US$166,000) and €143,000 a year for what the minister last week called a “light” teaching load, as well as for research and administration.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: China snubs university over Dalai Lama
The Chinese government has removed Canada’s University of Calgary from its list of accredited institutions – a move school officials fear is linked to the Dalai Lama’s visit last autumn, writes Gwendolyn Richards for the Calgary Herald. The university hosted the Tibetan spiritual leader and awarded him an honorary degree when he visited the city last September.
More on the University World News site

US: University adds worker rights to Abu Dhabi contract
Workers involved in building and operating New York University’s Middle East campus in Abu Dhabi must have protections in areas such as how often they are paid and how many hours they can work in a week, the university announced on Wednesday in a move that human rights advocates hope reverberates around the region, writes Deepti Hajela for The Associated Press.
More on the University World News site

US: Science funding gets a boost
A tough budget year could have meant big cuts for science research funding, but as mapped out in the Obama administration’s plan for the 2011 fiscal year released on Monday, it doesn’t, writes Jennifer Epstein for Inside Higher Ed. Though President Barack Obama vowed in his State of the Union address to freeze discretionary domestic spending, his $3.8 trillion budget shifts priorities to find increases for science and technology research and education that well outpace the 1.1% rate of inflation expected over the next year. The budget proposes non-defence research expenditures totalling $61.6 billion, a 5.6% increase over 2010 levels.
More on the University World News site

US: Class cuts wreak havoc at California universities
California’s budget crisis came into stark focus in the halls of Sacramento State University, where many students returning for spring semester were turned away from classes they had hoped to get into, or strained from hallways to hear lectures in classes that had enrolled way more students than there were seats, writes Laurel Rosenhall for The Sacramento Bee. A group of dejected seniors stood in the hallway after being booted from a writing class they must take if they are to graduate in May. It was full, they weren't on the waiting list, and the professor didn’t let any extra students in.
More on the University World News site

UK: Seven compete for each place at top universities
Almost seven students are competing for each place at elite universities in the UK this year amid warnings that record numbers of straight-A candidates will be rejected, write Graeme Paton and Andrew Hough for The Daily Telegraph. Research by the newspaper suggests that applications for degree courses have soared by as much as a third at some institutions, despite a strict cap on the number of new places.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: University chiefs attack innovation fund
Lecturers’ leaders and university principals last week attacked the handling of a controversial £110 million (US$172 million) fund to boost innovation in Scottish higher education, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald. Critics said a new committee set up by the Scottish Funding Council to administer the so-called Horizon Fund lacked independent scrutiny and allowed officials to pursue “pet projects”.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Test of English but not Chinese ‘traitorous’
Four Shanghai universities that included an English test in their independent admission examinations but chose to leave out Chinese have come under flak for giving “more importance to a foreign language”, Wu Yiyao reports for China Daily. Internet users flooded the Qiangguo Forum to voice their disapproval, calling the exams “traitorous” and “discriminatory” and accusing the universities of “blindly worshipping foreign languages”.
More on the University World News site

UK: Climate change scientist ‘hid’ data flaws
Professor Phil Jones, the beleaguered British climate scientist at the centre of the leaked emails controversy, is facing fresh claims that he sought to hide problems in key temperature data on which some of his work was based, writes Fred Pearce for The Guardian. An investigation by the newspaper of thousands of emails and documents apparently hacked from the University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit has found evidence that a series of measurements from Chinese weather stations were seriously flawed and that documents relating to them could not be produced.
More on the University World News site

US: Researcher on climate is cleared in inquiry
An academic board of inquiry has largely cleared a noted Pennsylvania State University climatologist of scientific misconduct, but a second panel will convene to determine whether his behaviour undermined public faith in the science of climate change, the university said last week, writes John M Broder for The New York Times. Dr Michael E Mann has been at the centre of a dispute arising from the unauthorised release of more than 1,000 e-mail messages from the servers of the University of East Anglia in England, home to one of the world’s premier climate research units.
More on the University World News site

US: Wisconsin moves to stop use of phony degrees
Wisconsin International University could be forced to change its name. So might Heed University. And a job applicant who recently tried to claim a phony degree from Madison Business College could be criminally prosecuted, writes Ryan J Foley for Business Week. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would crack down on the manufacture and use of phony academic credentials by criminalising both practices. If approved, Wisconsin would become the 12th state to make it a crime to use a bogus academic degree, said George Gollin, a University of Illinois professor who is an expert on the issue.
More on the University World News site

NEPAL: Scholarships for the poor countrywide
The Student Financial Support Fund Development Committee (SFSFDC), which falls under the University Grant Commission, is set to provide scholarships to meritorious students from poor and disadvantaged communities across Nepal, in a bid to make higher education more accessible, reports The Himalayan Times.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Finance for poor students on the cards
To help students from financially poor backgrounds pursue higher education, the Ministry of Human Resource Development is contemplating the formation of an Education Finance Corporation to provide education loans at low interest rates, reports Express News Service.
More on the University World News site

JAMAICA: Government ponders fund for needy students
Jamaica’s government has agreed to consider, for the next financial year, a programme of support for tertiary students in dire financial distress and at risk of deregistration, reports The Gleaner. Students qualifying for the programme would be selected by means testing and on the recommendation of institutions, the Ministry of Education has said.
More on the University World News site

TAIWAN: Universities must be globally competitive: President
Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou stressed on Tuesday the importance of making Taiwan universities globally competitive, and said he hoped they could attract 30,000 foreign students over the next four years, reports Central News Agency.
More on the University World News site

YEMEN: Talks with China on increasing scholarships
Yemen and China have held talks about increasing cultural exchange scholarships between Yemeni and Chinese universities, the Yemen News Agency reports.
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